Art to Dream by

A1 if wishes were horses to share

As the global pandemic continues to unfold one thing has been clearer for me; the last thing I see before I close my eyes at night should be something to send me to a world of happy slumber. That may seem a little childish; however this whole daily risk of death was something I thought we had as a society left comfortably in the distant past and to use a new phrase I don’t want to adult all the time. Dreams are someplace safe we might take a little cerebral vacation from all the strife of our waking world, and I want to close my afternoon with things that will bring magical dreams rather than nightmares. So my new theme for the time being is Art to Dream by.

Now what I want to dream about may be different than what someone else chooses and the beauty of dreams is all the endless real estate to populate with beautiful images and even some really impossible feats. For example, we live in a modestly sized two bedroom condo and the reality of having a baby Asian elephant to care for is impossible to say the least, and yet I experienced a marvelous dream that we were in fact in a house caring for a baby elephant. The dream left me smiling all day while I took care of laundry just thinking of the roly-poly chubby cherub of a baby elephant to hose down outside and to tuck into its little crib at night was a joy to recall.

When I was a child I would have dreams of flying and I knew others who did as well. Thanks to Jacques Cousteau I could also dream of life in the great big ocean, sometimes swimming and sometimes on a submarine that looked more like a London double-decker bus. Of course I haven’t lost touch with reality but waking up after an especially amazing alternate reality is fabulous.  I won’t have to clean up after a baby elephant as in there’s no litter box, but it was a joyous dream.  Being an adult the nightly news may make us all wish we had something to smile about. I can only imagine what it is like for parents with small children, how to make our reality less scary?

And that is where my idea for Art to Dream by, as in the type of images that would be found in a children’s storybook only larger and with little or no words as to create an image that people can make up their own stories to slip off to dreamland. Because in a society where everybody has an opinion and wants to debate it on social media, isn’t it nice to know that our dreams are our own private kingdom and we can be royalty on a throne or we could have a baby elephant in a two bedroom condo; the choice is ours.

My gouache watercolor If horses were wishes then wizards would fly is painted on Arches cotton paper, iridescent accents achieved with Schmincke metallic watercolors.

Social Distance like a Mermaid

A star gazing mermaid 8.3.20

Social distancing can be very effective if practiced rigorously. It is painfully clear the pandemic hasn’t released its grip on our country or the rest of the world for that matter. Self isolating is a behavior that isn’t so bad once you recognize it frees your mind to think of loftier topics; such as what’s it all about?

In centuries past being a hermit or a recluse was considered a bit standoffish and yet those that pulled away from society for religious reasons are more likely to have come through those bouts of plague better than their families in teeming towns and cities did, and that is something to consider. While I hear it at least once a day the recovery of Covid-19 is 96 percent, okay what if you’re part of the 4 percent mortality; no one wants to be in that group. And that is my point entirely; avoid groups.

Sure we have all heard of infected people, who came through the illness with minimal complications, but there are just as many stories of some healthy, vibrant, human beings who died and for them that means 100% mortality and to avoid that is to change behaviors. Changing behaviors is what human beings have the hardest part with as we all think we know how to take care of ourselves. Regardless of how many Americans are now part of the gross numbers of those that did not survive there are still people that avoid the truth.

We have our children inoculated against measles, mumps, and rubella. We have a tetanus shot about every ten years and if you have a cat or a dog than they are inoculated against rabies and dogs need to be protected from Lyme’s and distemper, not doing so is irresponsible. We all grasp that because we have heard it our whole lives. If you haven’t see the film Ole Yeller, than you may want to view how an unseen microbe can impact a life or you could just recognize that around our global community we’re dealing with a pandemic in catastrophic proportions.

While I miss seeing our family and friends I do not want to risk my life nor would I want them to risk theirs for a chance to say hello. Many years ago I had a family member in a burn unit and we could not visit unless we took precautions such as gowns and masks because they were in a vulnerable critical condition and could not risk any infections. Fresh flowers and fruit were prohibited as it may introduce bacteria, or insects that burn victims could not fight off.  If we could take those precautions for a loved one how difficult is it to be considerate of some else’s loved ones?

Time away from crowds isn’t a bad thing as it gives us time to evaluate what we really miss and what we’re looking forward to and that’s the best part having the clarity of the situation to know that we can overcome this as soon as we’re all on the same page. One thing to me is obvious and that thinking clearly and logically will carry us further than arguing over incidentals. Do I social distance? Of course why would I want to risk my health? Do I a wear a mask, YES, as if my life depended on it. I do miss going to dinner and I do miss getting dressed up to see friends and family, but I know I would miss friends and family more if I unintentionally brought them  death. Alive is where I want to be when this pandemic is over. Alive is my goal and I want that for all my friends and family as well and with that target in mind let’s act accordingly.

My Star Gazing Mermaid is painted with Schmincke Designers Gouache on Arches cotton paper. Enjoying those quiet moments at the beach at sunrise or even under a starry sky is a restorative alternative to the television or computer screen. We will pull through this, we will once again be able to enjoy ourselves in the company of loved ones, but first we need to be safe.

The Dream Ocean

A DreamFish 5.8.20

I dreamt of Las Vegas. What I recall is being on a huge plateau sky deck that overlooked not an arid wilderness, but a vast inland sea that appeared almost overnight. The waves were enormous.

I knew this great galaxy of new life sprang from the clouds and not the dessert below. Exotic creatures swam in the magnificent water that blanked the night sky. The dream ocean hangs above but not drowning the terracotta colored world below.

Even now I can see it as I close my eyes; this amazing ocean floating above the dessert and every now and then some aquatic artifact drifts like a feather to the parched sand below…

The Atlantic Ocean so much a part of my childhood that even as an adult surrounded by dessert I bring the salty brine to my dreams. I watch the epic film Lawrence of Arabia staring Peter O’Toole and I can’t stop my mind wondering all that sand and no sea, how can it be?

Summers of my youth were spent visiting my family in Huntingdon, Pennsylvania hundreds of miles from the ocean and yet dig in the shale of any gravel driveway and fossilized scallop shells were easily found amongst the other rocks. How could there be ancient seashells hundreds of miles from saltwater? I was told was many thousands of years ago the ocean covered nearly the whole planet and then sea life flourished abundantly. The mountains rose up revealing the land beneath to warm and dry in the sun.

Every day I am able I walk the sands that fringe the Gulf of Mexico. Living on an island each day is an opportunity to discover new shells and to witness the abundant wildlife that share Sanibel with the humans. Pelicans dive for fish in deeper water and rays little bigger than a Frisbee skim the ankle-deep waves for breakfast and dinner. Sandpipers forage among the shells washed up for their food and close by people walk with the Sanibel stoop to collect shells. It is a paradise people flock to after the bitterness of winter cold, for on a tropical island spring rules eternal.

Life before we self isolated seems ages ago and yet we attended the 83rd Annual Sanibel Shell Festival in March. This event brings shell collections collected around the world from snorkeling, to scuba divers and even more fantastic are the ancient shells collected in locations far from any saltwater. Spectacular shells belonging to species of mollusks extinct for thousands and sometimes millions of years ago is a rare peek into the evolution of a species.  We may marvel at the ingenuity of an octopus’s camouflage, but we may trace their ancestry back far enough and once they too depended on the protection of a shell.

Shells are the introduction to Sanibel for thousands of visitors every year and while they are here they may have a cloudy day to visit the Bailey Mathews Shell Museums and the prize specimen of the exhibit, a Pacific octopus. When we learn about shells we may also learn about ourselves. What I’ve learned about myself is I would rather have sand between my toes than wear gloves to shield my fingers from freezing cold. I prefer to don a straw hat instead of a woolly knit cap and I’ll take the warmth of the sun over the bite of icy wind. This for me is not new, I have always been a summer loving human and here on Sanibel I savor it every single day.

We have it appears as the rest of the planet come to terms with life during the time of Covid-19 and we must strive to find normalcy in an ever changing world.  Bicycling albeit with a cotton mask covering our nose and mouths is one way we breakup the routine of being inside. Rising and walking the beach just before sunrise to exercise and clear our minds of the negativity of the pandemic is another. Shells are still swept up on the sands daily only there are far fewer people to collect them.

Eventually schools will reopen, children will play with their friends and we as adults will once more gather in mass to watch entertainers or our favorite sports team, but until we have the all clear it is foolish to jeopardize that possibility with false starts that will only prolong self isolating. Treebeard an Ent in JRR Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings had a phrase perfect for humans with low tolerance or impatience, “Don’t be too hasty,” or as Benjamin Franklin is quoted, “Haste makes waste,”. I consider good people a luxury we cannot afford to wreak havoc on.

My Dream Fish an original artwork on Strathmore toned blue mixed media paper. Pablo Swiss made pencils by Caran d’Ache. Golden accents achieved with van Gogh metallic watercolors, all purchased before the pandemic.

Greetings and Salutations,

A in the night garden 3.13.20 - to use

Pandemic, is a word we all probably had in vocabulary and other than science fiction novel spun into an apocalyptic film we perhaps never really gave it its due. Here we are in 2020 and the year seemed to going well, except of course for those individuals in China that sickened and died by the wicked virus. The rest of the planet chugged along like the super train that it is in industry, manufacturing, and last but not least tourism; especially the cruise ship industry. Here we are dusting off our new vocabulary words like: social distancing, self-isolation, self-quarantine.

It would appear that the year 2020 is the year we remember why those ancient religious hermits were living on mountaintops and tucked away from society in the furthest desserts. Were they religious zealots or merely intelligent people hoping to spare themselves a visit from the Black Death? The word quarantine was a result of 14th century Venice attempting to prevent plague from entering their beautiful city. Ships must wait 30-40 days before coming to port in the harbor.

While we are not in the eminent danger of that scourge we are not living the lives we had imagined we would be when winter had released its grip on northern climates. A pandemic can be as unpleasant because the shelves are not fully stocked at the grocery because some folks went into all out panic mode or as cruel as having a loved one succumbs to the dreaded virus. It is to be remembered that if we all adhere to some simple rules than we can all make it out of this alive and that is where I want to be when summer rolls around, alive.

We all have to make sacrifices and postponing an upcoming visit to the dentist seemed wise. Not going to see the physician when an obvious ear infection caused my head to throb was something I was prepared to suffer because not going out and exposing myself to possible infection when my body was already compromised seemed intelligent.

Being the history geek that I am and I do relish a dark tale I have in my personal library The DECAMERON of BOCCACCIO so I fully understand the concept of hunkering down and sitting tight when a bad situation is being rolled out. Understanding the concept and actually living with a pandemic is not the same thing but at least I think I understand we’re doing a lot better.

For one thing we have actual doctors with actual science behind their tests, things like microscopes and blood tests as opposed to some individual calling themselves doctors and wearing pointy masks stuffed with garlic and other herbs to disinfect, disarm the bad vapors. Bad vapors was as about as scientifically descriptive as they could define. Chicken pox leaves the suffer with a smell about their person and I would imagine folks suffering with the Black Death had an odor as their body erupted in boils and continued to putrefy.

Covid-19 may not be the plague, but for those individuals with compromised immunities it is. We should all use caution tempered with intelligence to proceed through these times. And when it is all over we may take time to celebrate its demise along with polio, and small pox. Bubonic plague is still contracted in poorer countries and the illness kills 30% 90% of those infected. Death if it occurs happens within ten days. Vaccines are not full proof and antibiotics are prescribed.

See self-isolation for two weeks sounds better already, think of all the mini projects you can complete. Who is going to drag you out of self isolation while you complete a sewing project, your novel, that painting, that novel you couldn’t find time to read, your kids scrapbook, painting a bedroom, re-tile the bathroom, the quilt for a nursery, the list is endless and only you know how you can fill your proscribed time out from society.

The Night Garden an original work on black paper with Caran d’Ache Pablo pencils 

 

Mermaids

A 1 fish starry-sea mermaid

Visit the Greco-Roman exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and you will see examples of mermaids depicted in ancient art. The Philadelphia Museum of Art has some unique examples of mermaids in sculpture and paintings as well.

When we visit our familiar beach for a day of sun and sand, eventually we’re going to wade out and refresh ourselves in the salty water. This simple exercise exposes us to the alien, and the foreign for the water we stand in isn’t bound to any particular continent or island; no it washes its tides across the surface of our planet by the influence of our moon. Change is inevitable, the tide rises and the sand shifts in new patterns and the sea life must shift with it. A flip-flop lost in a river in Asia may wash up on a beach in New England affirming we are one planet with one super ocean surrounding our lands.

Mermaids, naiads, and sirens are an iconic image of ancient mythology and are present in nearly all cultures bordering large bodies of water. The lakes and rivers of the Americas had their own myths of water people too.  The pink freshwater dolphins of the Amazon River are believed by the indigenous people to be their kin of water and taboo to kill or eat. Many humans find the slaughter of dolphins for fishing repugnant. There are indeed fishermen with no reservations in hunting pink freshwater dolphins of the Amazon to bait their nets for giant catfish of all things.

Ancient people believed in the power of magic. Modern humans put their faith into more concrete concepts and yet millions of people visit beaches all around the coasts of America and the highlight of their day is to witness a pod of dolphins or more magically majestic a mother whale and her young calf.  A mermaid by definition is a creature half-human and half-fish and our whales’ great and small are the closest we have documented to that description. What is more compelling is our fellow water mammals have been documented showing compassion and altruistic behavior when a human was in eminent danger of a shark attack; a humpback whale interceded for the human. Compassion it seems is not entirely a human characteristic.

Conservation and compassion go hand in hand for if human beings are compelled to conserve and preserve wild lands and wetlands we must be on some level of human emotions feel compassion for creatures displaced by human encroachment. What we purchase and where we purchase products can have global ramifications to the habitat of endangered animals. Be an educated consumer and know where the wood was harvested for your new dining room furniture and whenever possible recycle and re-purpose.

Once upon a time I really enjoyed a great seafood dinner, alas allergies have curtailed that in my life and yet I know without a doubt no part of my meal involved an endangered species. While almost all restaurants I visit have a large seafood menu and many specialties of the sea it is our responsibility as diners to promote ethically caught and harvested food.  Our living mermaids are depending on us to be compassionate cousins on land.

Starry Seas image created on Fabriano Tiziano navy blue pastel paper made in Italy. Caran d’Ache Swiss made Pablo pencils with van Gogh metallic watercolors made in the Netherlands.

A 1 starfish found too - 3.9.2020

In Season

A 1 Inseason 2 2.8.20

When planning a trip it is wise to consider when high season is to establish when low season comes into swing and also when hotels and travel will be less expensive. For example peak season in Saratoga Springs in upstate New York turns a sleepy little cosmopolitan destination to a boisterous hot spot in what seems like the blink of an eye during thoroughbred horse racing season. I have personal experience when my husband and I moved from Orlando, Florida in the month of May to Saratoga Springs we were advised to secure our accommodation as quickly as possible as all open housing would be swiftly taken. Orlando was slipping into its own low season while Saratoga Springs was gearing up for the main event in July and August.

During high season finding a seat in a quality restaurant without reservations is like an amateur trying out with Olympiads for a major event and it will only result in disappointment.  You wouldn’t attend a concert or a sporting event without a ticket/reservation and the same can be said of limited seating in restaurants in the height of the season. Even on sunny Sanibel Island on the Gulf of Mexico we have high and low seasons.

We started visiting in June several years ago and we were warned about how hot Florida can be. Well here’s a news flash, Sanibel isn’t on the mainland of Florida it is an island, which as far as I have experienced wasn’t any hotter than Tidewater, Virginia or Charleston, South Carolina in the summer. What made it exceedingly fine for me and my husband was that it was low season and so we felt like we had our own little paradise where the natives were pleased to see us arrive. No lines to wait in for a seat at our favorite restaurant and no congestion on the 22 miles of paved bicycle paths. Absolute perfection, perspiration in summer is a normal bodily function, if you’re not sweating in June than you are either on the arctic tundra or you may be a walking zombie.

After all our visits to this exceptional tropical oasis, how thrilling it was when we were able to drive across the causeway not for vacation but for our new life on the Gulf of Mexico. While high season is presently in full swing here on the island and even on the mainland with plenty of visitors from colder regions we’ve learned that walking or biking to the grocery store will always be a quicker alternative to sitting in traffic. Making dinner reservations at our favorite restaurants is a breeze too; it simply means that the staff that knows us by name will have our cocktails as soon as they seat us and I couldn’t ask for more.

We have many visitors to the island at this time of year and while we may forgo the car for a stroll down the bike path for dinner out, we are also pleased to meet so many nice people who wait all year for this special time. So many of the visitors we meet were introduced to the island via their grandparents and they themselves are continuing the tradition with their own children.  Some accidents bear repeating like Roquefort cheese, tonic water, French fried potatoes, champagne and trying a new destination for vacation even if it is low season.

For Vincent

A Brand new Beach 1.10.2020

It was only a few summers ago that my husband and I had the chance to take the train into Manhattan. The essential point of the journey was to see Gustav Klimt’s golden painting to view in person the portrait of Adel Bloch-Bauer I 1907 at the Neue Gallery. We would of course not miss the opportunity to revisit the Metropolitan Museum of Art just a short stroll away while we were in town for the weekend. It is as grand a structure as one would expect to find in the most cosmopolitan cities of Europe and of course while there you will hear the artwork discussed in whispers in many and varied languages. New York is of course an international city; a landing place for tourists and immigrants alike.

From ancient Roman sculpture to the most modern of work is displayed at the Met. I am drawn to the tiles and mosaics of Louis Comfort Tiffany and the post impressionists such as Vincent van Gogh. Whether at the Barnes Foundation in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania or in Courtauld Gallery at Somerset House in London for me there is a poignancy and immediacy of Vincent van Gogh’s work. It was not that he rose so much above us and others that make up the masses of everyday humans rather that in spite of toiling and suffering in poverty he managed to create timeless works of art. It only takes reading a few letters from him to his brother Theo that he hoped and prayed that he would be a good artist.  As history will show us to be remembered as a good artist the road is far from smooth and paved for easy travel.

Vincent was always searching, searching for the best way to see and to capture images he saw in the everyday world around him. He was no painter of aristocratic faces at some opulent home, Vincent van Gogh painted and sketched the working class people around his daily life and of course he painted landscapes.  His portraits of working class people are cherished for the way he captured their rustic images in ordinary oil paint.  What elevates Vincent van Gogh’s work to the absolute sublime is the way he painted his impression of a night sky that catches our breath and makes our heart beat a little faster when we stand in front of Starry Night at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan.

If you do have the opportunity and stand admiring it amazed that some old piece of art can make your heart beat faster or your eyes well up than you will also understand why this painting and not the Mona Lisa by Leonardo da Vinci is considered the most valuable painting on the entire planet. The emotional attachment millions of people feel for this extraordinary artwork lifts mere canvas and paint to the realms of fine poetry. It is something that regardless of our education, sex, nationality, we all feel for this work like no other, because art like mathematics and music is a universal language that we can all communicate in.  The language of art is a unifier for formal education is handy but not essential; one only needs to open our eyes and look with our heart to understand.

Starry Night is Vincent van Gogh’s most recognized work and it was painted in an asylum; not a posh Parisian apartment but a mental asylum. I find this amazing. Think of all the people that believe they don’t have enough stuff and they fill their waking moments with the acquisition of yet more stuff.  When they die they’ll leave a lot of stuff.

Vincent van Gogh produced more than 2000 works of art; and sometimes he was patient in a mental hospital.

2020 has arrived, what will you be remembered for in 2120?

A Brand new Beach a 1.10.2020

Revision

A An absolutly awesome always 12.11.19

 

To revision is to re-envision a piece be it a room, a poem, a story or in my case several canvases. It is at least three years since they were originally sketched out and I cannot remember exactly what story I wanted to tell on their surface. While many artist want to paint in Pablo Picasso’s words paint the perfect picture  I want to tell a story or a glimpse into a story I have written or may have yet to write and the characters of a particular tale are still ghostly shapes I see in dreams. Drawing and painting gives me the opportunity to get to know them better and what they what to accomplish from their personal crisis. Telling a story reveals how an individual overcame an all encompassing crisis.

Cinderella had a fairy godmother to overcome her desire to go to the royal ball and still hide the fact from her evil stepmother. Aesop’s Fables are mostly about this type of dilemma; How to accomplish your desire and as in The Fox and the Crow’s story the fox is not above outright lying to seize a piece of cheese. Art is a sort of lie that tells the deepest of truths, a truth we cannot admit out loud but to put it in plain sight for others to see. While Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa may be the most famous painting on planet Earth it seems we are still scratching our heads to what truth he wanted to reveal, to hide in plain sight.

I have been to her gallery at the Louvre four times and in those four visits with other tourists pushing and crowding in to take a photograph of the Mona Lisa. What is obvious is that the Mona Lisa is like a sphinx in that she seems to be still in possession of some great secret that the rest of her society seems ignorant of. What could that secret be? In a world where it was perfectly normal for a fiftyish man to wed a fourteen year old girl/child and because he possessed the wealth to have a famous Italian painter paint her portrait it legitimized the disparity of their age difference? Was it while men ruled nearly every corner of Europe they were dependant on the fertility of a virgin to bring forth heirs to rule their future legacy? Or could it be like Mrs. Darling’s sweet mocking mouth had one kiss on it that Wendy could never get, though there it was, perfectly conspicuous in the right-hand corner in J. M. Barrie’s Peter Pan? We may never know exactly what she was thinking while Leonardo worked on her portrait for more than sixteen years. What we may discern fully five hundred years later that Mona Lisa was in fact a fully functioning thinking human being and not merely house ornamentation for her husband’s opulent home.

Having unpacked most of our household goods from New Jersey and the fact that we have a smaller home I do not have the luxury of warehousing canvases in an attic while I work on a new piece. On this our home planet Earth in the final month of 2019 we may take a page from the old masters of art and that is to recycle, re-purpose and reuse. Many of the great masters of art were notorious for painting over work that, well wasn’t working for them and while it is a challenging endeavor to repurpose a canvas it is something well within the grasp of a thinking human being.

Our last full moon of 2019 will shine out December 11th please do not forget to take a moment away from the rush of commerce and look to the heavens above and smile your own private smile.

All the very, very best for a sparkling holiday season and a joyous New Year!

A absolutly awesome 12.11.19

And Bijou Too…

A 3 Sunset 11.13.19

A comedian once said that the difference between animals and human beings is their ability to accessorize. Animals do not really need to they’re born with fur, feathers, or scales. We may take accessories as trivial and even mundane; but every student of archaeology knows when ancient human bones are discovered that is a skeleton however when pottery shards and beads are uncovered that reveals a culture.

Culture equals a society; a community of people and even if they did not record their thoughts and ideas their jewelry is one remnant of these lost people.  Visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art in Manhattan, New York City or the Louvre on the right bank of Paris, France and you will see they have display cases loaded with beautiful wearable art made for people hundreds or even thousands of years ago.

Typically this museum art is what I call tomb jewelry; made for an important individual and buried with them so that those in their afterlife will know they were a significant being, they were important because they have bling.   What do our modern accessories say to the world around us? Men finish a suit with a necktie and women may select a scarf or necklace and earrings, but what do we know about the actual creator of what we are tying around our neck and hanging on our ears? What would they reveal about us in a thousand years?

Ancient beads have been uncovered from many cultures around the planet and were probably developed independently. Today beads can be purchased in nearly all craft stores and imported from all over the world. Beads are an easy introduction for wearable art. My summers spent in central Pennsylvania introduced me and my brothers to Straits Hobby Shop in the Borough of Huntingdon. We could pick out fishing lures to fish with or as my brother learned he could buy the supplies and create his own fly fishing lures.

There were many types of hobbies to occupy us through our rainy summer days, but my maternal grandmother was known for her custom beaded necklaces. She always had dozens of tubes of glass beads for me to try stringing a necklace. A spool of brass wire and I explored making earrings of my own design. Even today when we travel I keep a look out for local bead shops.

Glass beads from the Czech Republic, semi precious stone malachite and black onyx can up the appeal of simple glass seed beads. It is all about personal preference and what is appealing to me. Some of my beads have been strung and restrung on necklaces since I was in first grade and are still a favorite bead and timeless in its appeal. It isn’t often I can afford the time to sit quietly, my supplies in front of me like an artist’s palette, but unlike a painting I don’t have to frame it..I am the art and my necklace is my edge.

The other day I was chiding myself for being such a magpie and later that day I saw a special on National Geographic Channel about a lost culture of the Green Sahara. Sure there were pottery pieces uncovered at this dig in the Sahara Dessert but it was the bangle made from the tooth of hippopotamus on the skeleton of a ten year old girl that reminded me that a culture is defined by what they leave behind.

My maternal grandmother left me with hundreds of beads that I have shared with many others and that is the best kind of legacy; one that continues long after we have departed.

A few weekends ago when tropical storm Nestor was unsettling the west coast of Florida, I decided to unpack my beads in the event we lost power I did not want to be left with a palette of wet paint. We selected our condo for the natural light in my potential studio and even without electric lights on an overcast day and I was still able to string my beads, creating a new piece of wearable art.

Light is the major difference between summer and winter; its warming glow nurturing plants or its absence advancing winter.  November can be the beginning of preparations for the holiday season, and the inevitable cold, dark corridor of winter. Will you fill in the dark with holiday lights, a television screen, and trips to museums in your local metropolis?   Perhaps a new hobby is waiting to be discovered or even rediscovered that will enlighten and inspire you. Don’t be dismayed by the dark, be the shimmer that illuminates the dark!

A a a display of Jewelry 11.13.19

And Lizards Too…

A an 1 aRobin Crusoe 10.13.19

Moving house is something that when done frequently feels almost like a normal part of life; for example people attached to the military services. We haven’t packed up our belongings and permanently changed our address in more than eighteen years. Our last home was the longest I had ever lived at one address my whole life and while I loved our location we felt change was healthy to growth. Like sneakers outgrown we looked forward to something different, something new, and somewhere exotic.

We have traveled to many places in our home country and even to other countries in Europe and inevitably we ask ourselves the ultimate question: could I live here? We have rented flats in Florence Italy, London England, Paris France, and Gustavia on Saint Barthélemy in the French West Indies. We like all of these wonderful locations and love what is available to the locals. However as much as I was enamored with the tropical flora and wildlife in St. Barths it is challenging to travel to; two or three flights and or two flights and a nauseating ferry ride. A passport is required for all of these locations and so would be challenging to some family members and we kept looking for a new address.

We considered Santa Barbara, California and I still smile when I think of its beautiful location nestled between scenic mountains and the gorgeous Pacific Ocean. I would welcome a visit of two or three weeks but I am not sure we are ready to cross country just yet…but maybe someday we will. So we kept looking.

One year we decided to try a little Island on the Gulf of Mexico we could drive to from Myrtle Beach, South Carolina after a visit with friends. We enjoyed the views as we drove further and further south and the transition of the scenery to more and more tropical. We drove over the elevated causeway to an island that we had read about, heard of and here it was an oasis of beautiful tamed jungle with 22 miles of paved bicycle paths. Would we be able to live on a daily basis without using a motorized vehicle? Yes!

Top speed on the island is thirty-five per miles hour, no traffic lights, nature is preserved and protected, and did I mention the 22 miles of paved bike paths? This looks like what we’ve been looking for. We’ll keep a car in case we want to take a trip to the airport or simply to go in town a.k.a. Fort Myers.

We took the leap and drove our rented truck south nearly 1,300 miles all while Hurricane Dorian was rattling the Caribbean and tormenting the southern east coast of Florida.

When folks up north hear you are moving to Florida they remind you of all the negatives: the heat in summer, hurricanes, alligators, palmetto bugs…some people have a huge list of reasons not to leave the north including the change of seasons, a beautiful snow covered yard (they forget snow continues right over the driveway and sidewalks too and doesn’t just cover the grass and trees). We were not dissuaded, this is my third move to Florida and interestingly in all three I left Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey around the end of August and the beginning of September.

We unpacked our belongings and began to settle into our new home; a condo within walking distance to the beaches of the Gulf of Mexico. I unpacked a box and began to walk down the hall when a creature on the floor caught my attention. My first thought was it’s not the giant palmetto bug of legends, it was nearly an inch long and then I realized it was a tiny, tiny baby lizard. Funny the reversal emotions take when you realize that it isn’t an insect but a small animal that somehow is in your living space. I tried for two days to catch the baby lizard all while its body got smaller and its head larger. Eventually we managed to trap it under a plastic bowl and slide a sheet of paper under it. I took it out to the foliage and left it under a shrub which it climbed up immediately.

For several days as we passed by we saw a lizard slightly larger, day by day until it seemed as all the other lizards in many sizes and proportions on the walkway and shrubbery. I smile, this is what I like to see in autumn; beautiful flowers, whispering palm trees, and happy frolicking lizards.